DFO NEPDEP Expedition

CCGS John P. Tully May 28 – June 12, 2023

On May 28, 2023, seven Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility team members assisted scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region in the exploration of seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold seeps off the coast of Vancouver Island, work which was conducted aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship, the CCGS John P. Tully, as part of the Northeast Pacific Deep-sea Exploration Project (NEPDEP). Researchers from several institutions participated, including principal investigators, graduate students and professionals from the University of Victoria, Dalhousie University, Memorial University, the University of Gothenburg, the Hakai Institute, Ocean Networks Canada, the Royal British Columbia Museum, Natural Resources Canada, the GEOMAR Hemholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. ROPOS provided access to six unique habitats, the: Explorer Seamount (‘Spongetopia’ & ‘Coraltropolis’), Explorer Ridge Hydrothermal Vents (‘Recordbreaker’ & ‘Old Area’), Tuzo Wilson Seamount NEPDEP 58 Nursery, Winona Cold Seeps (‘Twins’ & ‘Blowout’), Deep NEPDEP 35 Seamount and Hesquiat Slope Cold Seeps. Highlights of our mission included: coming across a whale fall, capturing the birthing of a Pacific white skate (Bathyraja spinosissima) on video and a mother octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) fending off king crabs from her eggs.

Another key aspect of the NEPDEP expedition was scientific outreach. It was live streamed on Ocean Networks Canada's SeaTube and on Facebook Live, with social media coverage on Facebook as well as Twitter through the Northeast Pacific Deep-sea Exploration Project (@nepdep_) and the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility (@ROPOS_ROV) accounts as well as many expedition participants’ personal accounts. The NEPDEP science team hosted six live Ship2Shore outreach events, which successfully reached 60 classrooms and coastal communities, as well as the public. The CSSF and NEPDEP teams shot hours of potential footage for the BBC's Blue Planet III, and professional photographer, Nicole Holeman, captured the key moments and human emotion behind the science.

The NEPDEP expedition was conducted in partnership with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Council of the Haida Nation, Pacheedaht and Quatsino First Nations and Ocean Networks Canada and was endorsed by the United Nations Ocean Decade, a Challenger 150 initiative.

By the Numbers

ROPOS' performance during the expedition



11 operational days, ROPOS completed 11 dives, totalling 168 hours submerged, with the longest dive at 12 hours and the deepest at 3200 m.



350+ biological, 38 eDNA and 35 geological samples collected. 1750 km of seafloor surveyed.



1 Pacific white skate egg nursery discovered at a venting seamount, 1 deep-sea octopus nursery ground, 1 whale fall and 1 new coral species discovered in Canadian waters. 1+ active venting sites discovered.